February 01, 2016 - 1:00 PM
KAMLOOPS - Local volunteers were surprised to see three Syrian refugees instead of two step off the plane last weekend, but say the transition for all three men is going smoothly as they settle in Kamloops.
“It was a surprise occasion,” Refugees and Friends Together volunteer Martha Ashbaugh says. “I’m sure my eyes were as big as saucers."
Ashbaugh and others with the the organization are working with other community groups in the city to prepare for refugee arrivals by ensuring they have accommodation along with other necessities. The latest to arrive were two brothers in their mid-20s, but Ashbaugh says another man set to arrive later ended up on an earlier flight.
"I knew there was another single young man destined for Kamloops but I’d heard nothing about him actually arriving yet,” she says.
The man, who is around 20 years old will share an apartment with the brothers, Ashbaugh notes.
The group arrived on Friday, Jan. 29 to a crowd of around 40 volunteers and members of the Kamloops Islamic Association. Ashbaugh says the trio were welcomed with a song in Arabic before everyone sang the national anthem for them.
"It was delightful. Everyone in the airport thought it was absolutely delightful,” she says noting strangers walked up to the men, shook their hands and welcomed them to Canada.
By the next day, Ashbaugh says the men rode the bus to get a feel for the city and ventured to Walmart. This week, they’ll have language assessments and fill out forms at Kamloops Immigrant Services.
A handful of families are still expected to settle in the city, but Ashbaugh does not know imminent arrival dates. The notice period for when a sponsored family will arrive can be as short as 24 hours.
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News from © InfoTel News Ltd, 2016